In recognition of National Nutrition Month, Direct Relief is pleased to highlight the healthcare company Abbott, and the dedicated medical providers in our worldwide partner network who improve the health and lives of countless patients suffering from malnutrition each year. Since 2008, Direct Relief has distributed more than $8.2 million worth of Abbott’s nutritional products to our partners in 33 countries.
Malnutrition is a significant global health problem, particularly in the developing world, where many people lack access to clean water, nutrient-rich food and proper sanitation. People living in these conditions frequently suffer from diarrhea which exacerbates the problems of malnutrition.
According to the WHO, “The impact of repeated or persistent diarrhea on nutrition-related poverty and the effect of malnutrition on susceptibility to infectious diarrhea are reinforcing elements of the same vicious circle, especially among children in developing countries.”
Malnutrition is often a precursor to other serious health issues, as it leaves patients weak and unable to fight infections. In areas where malnutrition is rampant, nutritional products are critical to patients who need to be strong enough to begin treatment for HIV, cancer, and other advanced infections and disease.
Since 2005, Direct Relief has delivered Abbott’s Ensure, Pedisure, and Pedialyte to the Afghan Institute of Learning in Afghanistan as a part of a large-scale Maternal and Child Health program, to ensure the proper nutrition of mothers and children living in abject poverty. In Guatemala, which has the fourth highest rate of malnutrition in the world, Abbott has donated products such as Ensure to help provide nutrition to people in need.
Additionally, Abbott has consistently provided nutritional donations during times of disaster; having these nutritional products available in disaster settings for patients who have been displaced from their homes and endured trauma is life-saving.
Abbott also worked with Direct Relief to develop a strategic initiative to help communities to prepare for potential disasters. Since 2006, Abbott has been an integral part of Direct Relief’s Hurricane Preparedness Program, which prepositions modules containing nutritional products and other emergency medicines and supplies with clinics and hospitals in hurricane-vulnerable areas in the U.S. and the Caribbean.
Since the program’s inception, the modules have expanded to include a wide array of critical care products from numerous health care companies, and have enabled effective, immediate care following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and in response to hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf states.